The value of vocalises (vocal exercises) for singing seniors

We are asking singers and musicians to engage in vocal warm-ups with their participants as they set up equipment and prepare to present their program of music.  There are a number of reasons why these simple, lyrical exercises are effective with people who have experienced a loss of vocal power, or the faculty of speech, due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s and other ailments.  The simple vowel sounds that range up and down four or five notes (ah-ah-ah, etc), or vowel/consonant blends (e-me-me-me-me-me-me) and you-you-you-you-you-you-you drew laughs recently) are achievable for folks who might not feel competent in singing along to songs with lyrics, providing them with an important opportunity to participate.  I’ve found that when I present vocalises before a singalong, senior participants seem to participate more spontaneously and with greater enthusiasm during the main program, leading to more stimulation, greater enjoyment, and more physical benefits, such as posture and breathing.

Therapists are using vocalises and singing as ways to help some people regain speech after a stroke, or if Parkinson’s or dementia are robbing clients of the ability to speak.  Speech is confined to a small area of our brain, but singing spans several areas, making it more readily accessible to us.  All great reasons to sing more with seniors, and, when building program content, to thing about creating  mood, tempo, content and pitch that encourages vocal participation.


About maryann4tao

Executive Director at Tidewater Arts Outreach. Former Volunteer Hampton Roads Training Manager and United Way/Salt Lake City Major Gifts Officer.
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One Response to The value of vocalises (vocal exercises) for singing seniors

  1. Carol Ruffin says:

    After my mom had a stroke six years ago the speech therapy gave up on her way too quickly in my opinion. Since I am a voice teacher I put together my own home-grown regimen of speech and vocal therapy which was highly successful. Today my mom is an articulate 90 year old! To me it seemed as if the vocalises I used with Mom were the key that unlocked the door to her communication recovery!

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